Hustle Chat with Michelle Robinson
LH: Thanks so much for chatting with me today! We are so excited to share your story. Can you tell me a little about yourself?
MR: I'm possibly the most whimsically, quirky girl you've ever met. I am often barefoot, with flowers in my hair, twirling around, just loving life. I have a passion for people. This season of life has been unexpectedly hard with still being single at 28, losing my job, and a few other big things. But I just set my sights on being content, wherever I am. I just want to love people, do good, and share Jesus. It's been an amazing season, of just saying, "yes" and loving people right where they are at.
LH: I love your sunny demeanor! Going through the struggles you mentioned can definitely be very challenging, but I'm so glad to hear you are looking for the silver lining!
LH: You recently completedDressember, how did you find out about this great cause, and can you explain it?
MR: Absolutely! I first heard of the issue of human trafficking about five years ago at a conference in Atlanta. Ever since then, I have had a fire in my soul to do something about the issue of slavery, in our world today. I tell my mom all the time that I'm a modern day abolitionist and she just rolls her eyes and laughs. I first heard about Dressemberabout two days before it began. I helped launch Jen Hatmaker's latest book last year, along with 499 others. One of the girls on our launch team page had mentioned she was doing it. I immediately looked into it and signed up. Dressember is a challenge to wear a dress every day during the month of December, to raise awareness and funds for victims of human trafficking. Women from all over the globe joined together and raised $915,000 to make a difference for people trapped in slavery all across the world. It was an amazing thing to be a part of.
MR: It's very similar to the idea of Movember, when men grow mustaches to raise awareness and funds in support of men's health.
LH: Wow! That is so incredible! Your story definitely stood out to me because at Lady Hustle, one of our passions is to raise awareness for human trafficking and to help eliminate it. Dressember is an amazing cause and you are amazing for completing it! A group of people raising almost a million dollars in a month is no small feat.
LH: What inspired you to join it? When you looked it up were you just immediately like, "YEP?"
MR: I looked into it, and immediately saw it supported organizations (The A21Campaign and International Justice Mission) that I have researched, that I believe in, and that I already give to. Plus, I am a huge fan of wearing dresses. It really was a no brainer for me. If I could do something as simple as change what side of the closet I picked from every morning, and it could help set women free, I was all in.
LH: Yes! Amen. Using your wardrobe to help those who have been exploited. Were there any challenges that you weren't expecting to have to face during Dressember?
MR: Well, I do live in Michigan, and even though we have had unseasonably "warm" weather, it was still really cold in a dress some days (even with proper leggings and boots). Also, I wasn't expecting so much criticism. My local paper did a story on me for Dressember, and I made the mistake of reading the comments online. It was hard to read how ignorant people were to the issue of human trafficking, and because of that, were so full of hatred towards me. But I am glad I got people talking and looking into the issue. So I guess I can count it as a win.
LH: Oh no! What sort of things were they saying? If it's not too difficult to talk about.
MR: It was all pretty dumb stuff, I'm just sensitive about things I'm really passionate about. For instance, the picture that made the front page of the paper was a photo of me, in a cute apron, baking Christmas cookies, at my friends house, in her beautiful kitchen. A lot of the comments were about how they didn't see how "Suzy Homemaker" was doing any good by sitting around and baking cookies in a gorgeous kitchen, and that I should be doing more.
It really bothered me, because that was only a small snapshot of my day.
I told a friend how discouraged I was that people were missing the point, and she gathered together other friends that replied to every single nasty comment online, by sharing bits of my story, what I do Tuesdays, and information about human trafficking. I seriously have the best group of friends around.
LH: That's amazing! Having a close group of friends to go through a battle like that can make a world of difference. It had to be tough to read those comments, especially because it makes you wonder if any of the commenters were doing anything for the cause themselves, or simply just criticizing you for the way you chose to help. So how did friends/family/strangers react in person when you told them why you were always wearing dresses?
MR: I had a lot of people via social media that were so encouraging. If I didn't post my dress picture yet, I had people texting me, excited to see what I was going to wear for the day.
My parents are some of my biggest supporters. I'm pretty sure I got five dresses for Christmas.
As far as everyone's response as to why I was wearing them, it varied. Most wanted to know more about the issue, and what they could do to be apart of the solution. Other people just looked at me awkwardly and mumbled, "I just said I liked your dress ma'am." But overall, it got the conversation started with a lot of people that didn't realize slavery is an issue in our world.
LH: I can definitely see some people having that reaction! How much money did you end up raising for the cause?
MR: My initial goal was $200. I figured I would donate $50, so I would only be asking people for $150. That quickly was met and exceeded. So I decided to get crazy and said that if I raised $1000 by Christmas, I would jump in a lake, in a dress, on Christmas morning as an incentive. I went for a polar plunge after Christmas breakfast. But by the end of the month, I ended up raising $1830 in total.
LH: WOW! Thats amazing! I bet people loved seeing that polar plunge video. Those are always hilarious. Way to go!
LH: What does being a Lady Hustler mean to you?
MR: Being a lady hustler means getting stuff done. No matter what season you are in, no matter how little or big your resources, you are striving to make a difference, be the change, or fighting injustice.
LH: Okay, QUICK: Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC?!
MR: Ahhhh! If I had to choose, it has to be NSYNC, but to be totally honest, I didn't listen to them too much back in the day, but I have been loving them lately. Perfect for dance parties around the apartment!
LH: You're on the right side of history there!
LH: So what life projects are you currently working on/have coming up?
MR: Well the biggest part of my heart is my Tuesdays in Pontiac.
In the mornings I serve breakfast at a homeless shelter. We do breakfast, sing a few worship songs, and then have someone teach from the Bible. I've been privileged to cook and teach over the last few months. It's one of my favorite places to be.
But Tuesday nights are what my heart beats for. About six months ago, I and three friends decided to start going out on the streets every Tuesday night. Our heart initially was for prostitutes. But as time has gone on, we have fallen in love with the homeless. We brings sandwiches, snacks, and bottles of water. I write out cards, reminding people that they are so loved. We just show up, same time, every week, and meet needs. Out of our Tuesday nights in the hood, I was able to help deliver the baby of a teenage homeless girl. We have helped people get off the streets. But most of all, we have just loved people where they are at. We believe that's what Jesus commanded us to do. Its what the Gospel is all about. It's been the wildest ride of my life.
I also have been trying to get really healthy. Last fall I completed a half marathon, and I am starting to train for my second one. Right now I'm in the middle of Whole30. I missed my ice cream for a few days, but now I just feel so good, and have so much energy.
I also have officially started writing my book. I'm pretty excited about that one.
And of course, I'm still job hunting. Not exactly my favorite part of life, but I'm really excited about some new adventures.
LH: You are ridiculously inspiring. It's so wonderful to hear about women who volunteer their time to make a difference because they feel like it’s their calling. I'm so excited to be talking to you.
LH: What advice do you have for fellow Lady Hustlers?
MR: Just find a cause that is like fire in your bones, and run hard after it. Whatever that is (your own business, the injustice of human trafficking, the orphan crisis, local homelessness, loving new moms well, etc.) Raise awareness wherever you go. Love well. Don't be intimidated because you're a woman, that is one of your greatest strengths. Remember, no matter the circumstances, there is always something to be done to do good.
LH: So where can people follow you online?
LH: Wonderful! And, of course, the final question: Team Logan, Team Jess, or Team dean (or Team Rory!)?
MR: Ahhhhhh! I am THE BIGGEST Gilmore Girl fan ever. I have never been a Logan fan. But I love Jess, I mean, come on!
LH: ME TOO! I watch everyday, and love meeting fellow Gillys! Hahahha did you hear they're all officially coming back for the revival?
MR: I stalk any Gilmore news online like it's my job.
LH: Amen, sister.
LH: Well Michelle, thanks so much for chatting with me! It was so wonderful to get to hear more of your story and your daily life.
MR: Thank you! This has been a blast!